Trace the causes and Development of Ethinicity in Uganda. By Walubo Jude Tadeo, Makere University, Kampala Uganda

Essay by Judea May 2005

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The genesis of the ethnic crisis in Uganda, as in most parts of Africa, is mainly linked to the colonial intervention process and the particular organisation of power in society. The post-colonial practices simply enhanced it. Therefore, the formation of ethnic identities is a social construction defined by the historical conditions in which they emerge. Ethnicity is not a constant. Over Uganda's history, ethnicity has been continually redefined as the context has changed. The objective of this section is to present a historical examination of the colonial and post-colonial practices which created and sustain the ethnic phenomenon in Uganda's socio-political set up. Mamdani contends that to understand the phenomenon of what is referred to as 'tribalism' it is necessary to look at it within a social context. This is why, rather than conceiving of an ethnic identity as simply invented by statecraft, as in Ranger , or as 'imagined' by intellectuals, as in Anderson , it would make sense to speak of the making of an ethnicity.

Ethnicity is made through political, economic and social processes. It is these processes that we examine here.

The problem of ethnicity and political power in Uganda has been superficially explained in a one-sided manner as mainly an outcome of the first 25 years of independence and the pre-industrial nature of Ugandan society. Mazrui advances another view, which attributes ethnic mobilisation to tribalism in Uganda. Perhaps a more negative trend is one that attributes continued ethnicity in the country to the personalities of those who governed after independence . It is historically partial, both theoretically and empirically narrow, to conceptualise the problem of ethnicity and political power in Uganda in this manner. It is important to trace the social history of ethnicity and power, particularly from the colonial practices,